On Monday, 18 March we welcomed Kings Head Two to the Actonians. On paper, we enjoyed a slight advantage in average rating across the six boards.

Andrew’s game was the first to finish. He writes: “My opponent played down a main line of the Alekhine’s, an opening which I have only met a handful of times in my whole life. I gained the two bishops but in a blocked position. There was a brief flurry of excitement when I offered him the chance to sacrifice a piece for three pawns on my kingside but after some thought, he declined. Much fun was had in the post mortem, but over the board, an early draw was agreed once he had blockaded on d5 with his knights.”

Reflecting on his game, Alan notes: “My sixth Sicilian of the season and the sixth time I have had to face an Anti-Sicilian rather than the Open Sicilian with 2.Nf3 and 3.d4. This time it was the Grand Prix Attack. I came out of the opening well with harmonious development and a slight advantage. However, I had difficulty finding an effective plan and I went for the risky pawn push 19…g5!? weakening my kingside. The idea was to exchange his pawn on f4 and undermine the defence of his knight on e5. I was anticipating that he would play 20.g3 to keep a pawn on f4 which would have weakened his own kingside. He found something much better. The position was still about equal but required accuracy from me and after some weak moves I was facing a crushing defeat. Fortunately he let me off the hook by settling for merely the win of a pawn involving the exchange of queens. We reached a rook and bishops of opposite colour endgame. I offered a draw which was accepted.”

It was good to see Mark return to the team. He comments on his game: “As White, I  played a Vienna Paulsen (where the queen goes to f3), and got some pressure which eventually led to winning the exchange with a knight fork on b6 with Black’s king on a8 and rook on d5. Unfortunately after that Black’s game got freed up, and he soon won back a pawn. He probably had the better of it at the end but we agreed a draw with both sides down to less than 5 minutes.”

On board six, Raj played a Benoni. Although suffering with a ‘bad’ light-squared bishop, the position remained even. With level material in the ending, and neither player having a realistic chance of breaking through, the point was split.

The match was poised at two-all with everything to play for. Tony then clinched our first victory of the evening. He notes: “I was on the white side of a 3.Bb5 Sicilian. All was typically unexciting until my opponent developed his queen on a5 and escaped it to f5 once attacked. Suddenly I had play against the misplaced queen, forcing either positional or material concessions. A few moves later, despite later computer analysis saying I was plus 1.5, I felt my advantage slipping and decided to relinquish any tactical hopes, instead trying solely to saddle my opponent with a bad bishop. A bit later his position seemed somewhat worse thanks to the awful bishop. However a blunder in time trouble thankfully decided it in my favour before I had to display any endgame technique.”

With the score at 3-2 in our favour, it was now up to Jonathan to seal the victory. He did not disappoint. Reviewing his performance, he states: “I was Black in this game which started 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4. It’s been a while since I’ve faced this and my initial response could have been sharper, but I was still soon a pawn up for no particular cost: 3. … Nc6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Bd5 Nf6 6. Bb3 e4 7. Ne5 d5.  It was then a question of exchanging off pieces to an endgame, where his knight and pawns faced my bishop and pawns +1. I managed to grind out the win.”

So pleasingly, a 4-2 home victory. As long as we continue to field our best players, our division one status remains unthreatened. Anything less and there could be a problem.

            EalingRatingResultKings Head TwoRating
FM Andrew Harley21440.5 -0.5Nigel Fleming2086
Alan Perkins21560.5 -0.5Mark Davey2104
Tony Wells2033 1 – 0Colin Mackenzie2050
Jonathan White1976 1 – 0Peter F. Anderson1874
Mark Winterbotham18580.5 -0.5Paul Chantrell1749
Raj Jhooti18060.5 -0.5Neil Tomkin1698
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